Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom

“You can motivate by fear. And you can motivate by reward. But both of these methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation." (Homer Rice)

Read the full piece by Elona Hartjes which includes the below seven observations:

1. When I develop a positive relationship with my students, most students want to co-operate and do well.

2. When I focus on the positive and catch my students “doing good” and comment about it, then they do more of the same and other students follow suite.

3. When I greet my students at the classroom door with smile and a puzzle of some sort for them to do, they settled down more quickly and are ready for the day’s lesson.

4. When I have those students who can’t sit still for very long and lose focus easily, I get them to do their math questions on the board, they are more likely to stay focused and learn.

5. When I ask my students to volunteer to be "teachers for a minute" and explain how they did a particular question, more learning seems to go on than if I do all the talking myself. What a wonderfully positive way to meet a student’s need to be a leader.

6. When my classroom is a safe place to make a mistake, then reluctant students are more willing to take risks.

7. When my students interfere with my teaching or another student’s learning , I say “I don’t understand why you are being disrespectful to me when I’m not being disrespectful to you”, they stop the behaviour without threats or bribes. Honestly, most of the time they don’t realize that their behaviour is disrespectful. They’re just doing whatever. This approach works because they know I respect them, and in turn they want to respect me. Everyone wants respect.

4 comments:

Alan Le Bras said...

Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom

Among Elona Hartjes’ seven observations, two picked my interest, namely:

“4. When I have those students who can’t sit still for very long and lose focus easily, I get them to do their math questions on the board, they are more likely to stay focused and learn.”

I gather Elona Hartjes is teaching primary school pupils. When it comes to teaching college level students, how can we get to have certain students to stand up and use the board to do an activity requiring more long-lasting concentration? Many students find in their notepad or whatever they use to take notes something material they can hold up to, which they can use to reproduce what’s written by the lecturer on the whiteboard or as a mere draft paper. To tell them they may or have to use the whiteboard might appear very intimidating, if not paralyzing. At the same time, it might strengthen their focusing ability by confronting them to another perception of space – the whiteboard – and more isolation to accomplish their activity.

&

“5. When I ask my students to volunteer to be "teachers for a minute" and explain how they did a particular question, more learning seems to go on than if I do all the talking myself. What a wonderfully positive way to meet a student’s need to be a leader.”

This “be teachers for a minute” is a great concept and could be further developed within the language classroom in the form of short presentations of what students like to do/know how to do (e.g. bake chocolate chip cookies; repair a flat tire; teach a new dance step; teach a martial arts position, and so on.) These short presentations not only enable the students to share with their classmates something they like to do outside of the classroom, but also do they enable them to acquire more vocabulary and develop their presentation skills in the target language.

Elona Hartjes said...

Alan,
I actually teach high school students not primary kids. I think that some of these older grade 12 students still have the same needs as the younger students and it's those needs that I try to meet.

I'm sure meeting those needs at the college level would entail different strategies. But, I'm certain some of those needs are still there.

I like your ideas for "teacher for a minute" in language classes. I'm going to share them with my colleagues. Thanks.

Alan Le Bras said...

I am glad to discover (yet again) that the blogosphere is creating links between people, regardless of borders.

I will try and implement again this Teacher for a minute conecpt with my syllabus next session, and shall come back to you with some feedback on how it went and what it brought to the dynamic of the class / learning.

Nelson Allan said...

I feel re-energized after reading what Elona and Alan had to say in their comments because I have always applied those methods in my classes too. I have found it very successful and I agree that different approaches needs to be used to cater to different levels of students.